The French Bilingual Revolution in New York's Public Schools

French-English bilingual programs in New York City’s public schools are growing. The programs were
developed not only to serve the French families who had initiated after-school programs, but also to
meet the needs of a growing number of diverse Francophone immigrant children who are emergent
bilinguals, better known as English Language Learners A true bilingual revolution is taking place in
New York's public schools. In order to succeed, French-English bilingual programs in New York require
a solid tri-partite partnership –– strong commitment from the schools' leadership, very qualified and
dedicated teachers, and ceaseless involvement from the parents at all levels. Schools hosting these
programs also benefit from the diversity of the population they serve and the diversity of the teaching
staff, able to incorporate linguistic and cultural differences into their pedagogy. This model is also rich
in cognitive advancement and beneficial to the brain's executive control functions as neuroscience
researchers have come to consensus about.



French Dual Language Program, Grade K-5

n September 2012, PS 58 offered two Dual Language classes in all grades from Kindergarten to Fifth Grade led by Giselle McGee.  Most students move up each year as a cohort into the next grade, so there are very limited seats available for French-speaking children in First grade and up. This school received the LabelFrancEducation of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.



The French Dual Language Program was started 4 years ago. and run from grade K to 5. The After Schools Programs are full of lively interaction and active engagement. All of the activities are recreational and educational and are carefully designed to enhance the learning of French. The school is led by Robin Sundick. This school received the LabelFrancEducation of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.



Teachers and parents of students of School Monitor take to heart the bilingual learning and support the cultural mix.This Dual Language Class consists of half French speaking students and the other half of English speaking students. Applications for the French Dual Language Program will be available at the time of Kindergarten registration. Thus, the students at the youngest age, evolve in a bilingual world and enjoy an exceptional training, led by Principal Anna Cano Amato.



At PS 133, the parents found a supportive learning community led by Principal Heather Foster-Mann, who welcomed parent and community participation to build a dual language program that will enrich children of all backgrounds in the PS 133 community. They also offer a weekly after-school French program, that is separate from the dual language program. These programs are designed to bathe children in a culturally rich bilingual universe.

PS20 - The Clinton Hill School

Principal Barbera and her team have agreed to launch a DLP program in French by  September 2013 with a Kindergarten class and possibly a grade 1. The school will add a new grade each year. The Clinton Hill School that serves the Clinton Hill and Fort Greene neighborhoods in Brooklyn (District 13). The school’s dynamic leadership team has expanded project-based learning and the arts.




MS 51, a screened middle school in Park Slope, Brooklyn, will be starting a new French Dual Language program next fall (2013) for incoming sixth grade students.  The program is open to participants of elementary school and bilingual programs, as well as English Language Learners and French heritage language speakers.   Students are expected to be proficient or fluent in reading, writing and speaking French prior to entering the Program. This will have three components:  Advanced French Language Arts, World Cultures/ History taught in French, and an optional after school arts program in French. This school is led by Lenore Berner.



The program is open to participants of elementary school French DL and bilingual programs, as well as English Language Learners and French heritage language speakers. Students are expected to be proficient or fluent in reading, writing and speaking French prior to entering the DL Program. Preference is given to PS84 and District 3 students, but the school is permitted to accept out of district students who meet the French DL eligibility. The program is anticipated to start with one French dual language class in grade six in the fall of 2013. In 2014, the program would accept another class to encompass grades 6 and 7. By 2015, there would be one class in each grade 6, 7 and 8. This school is led by Jeff Perl.




The New York French American Charter School is a growing community school with a global focus. As the only free, bi-lingual French Charter School in the U.S., they are also the only school to offer immersive French courses to children with special needs in the CTT classes, as well as offering immersive support for non-French speakers, providing them with the opportunity to enroll in the school until grade four. The school is led by Edith Boncompain.






2012-2013 marks the second year of King/Robinson Interdistrict Magnet School’s French immersion program as a method of foreign language instruction. King/Robinson offers what is called a partial French immersion program: half of the day is spent learning regular grade-content curriculum in French and the other half in English.There are now three grades involved in King/Robinson’s French immersion program: kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade . Two teachers, Hannah Sam and Audrey Berthelot, teach literacy and social studies in French about three hours.





Hunter College is offering the Master's and Advanced Certificate in Bilingual Education with French-specific bilingual education courses. Students who successfully complete the Master’s or Advanced Certificate will be eligible to apply for teaching positions in New York City’s French dual language programs.They encourage non-certified candidates as well as early childhood, childhood and secondary school teachers to apply.





Let French be an asset for new Americans

Whether they come from Senegal, Mali, Haiti, or one of the 29 countries that have French as an official language today, many new immigrants in US public schools often find themselves without the opportunity to maintain and make the most of their language here in the United States. The French Heritage Language Program helps US public schools and community centers set up French courses specifically designed to facilitate the integration of new immigrants, keep up their French and help them maintain strong ties with their respective cultures and identity. This program is coordinated by Benoit Le Devedec.





Education Française à New York (EFNY) envisions a New York City in which all school children have access to high quality French language education.  The mission of this not-for-profit organization is to facilitate and provide educational opportunities for New York City’s school children to acquire, maintain, or deepen their knowledge of the French language and Francophone cultures through French dual language classes in New York City public schools French language after school classes. EFNY is presided by Talcott Camp



The French bilingual revolution is happening. I'd like to highlight several initiatives please feel free to contact the different initiators to bring them support or tell them you are interested: 

1 ) Johanne is trying to create a program in a primary school in the Upper East Side

2 ) Patrick and Assita are trying in Ditmars and

3 ) Helene is doing the same with a primary school downtown

4 ) Sandrine, Jont et Shareen at PS20 Clinton Hill, and

5 ) Annie is looking for parents interested in starting a middle school bilingual program downtown

6 ) Zoya is working on getting a program started in a primary school near City Hall

7 ) Coralie and Yasmine are trying in Riverdale:cgenin@cogene.and

8 ) if you are in contact with a school about opening a program, here is an important deadline Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) and/or Dual Language Planning Grant for 2013-14 All schools / Deadline: February 12* (extended deadline) The Office of English Language Learners invites all public schools throughout the city to be part of a new and exciting comprehensive effort to strengthen instruction and raise achievement for English Language Learners. Through the Bilingual Program Planning Grant, schools will be provided with a unique opportunity that will result in creating a new Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) and/or Dual Language program for the 2013-14 school year, thereby offering academically rigorous instruction to prepare students for college and careers. Schools are invited to apply for the Bilingual Program Planning Grant for up to $20,000, which can be used to plan a new bilingual program. To access the RFP for this exciting opportunity, click here.

9) Here is a place where teachers can post their resume and where schools can post their job announcement.

10) here is a place where you can learn and exchange about the NY Certification

11) Download this  Powerpoint Presentation

Join the French Bilingual Revolution - Make a donation

French Goes Public, a Franco-American fundraising campaign to support these programs.

Since 2007, the campaign to raise funds for French Goes Public was launched to support the various French language teaching programs in New York. In France, the Senate, the Ministère de l’Education nationale and the Ministère des Affaires étrangères et européennes quickly contributed their support.

The donations of foundations and individual are allowing us to match the contributions coming from France. The website Network for Good enables individuals to safely and efficiently make their donation online. These donations, contributed to the non-profit French American Cultural Exchange Council (FACE), are tax-deductible.

These donations are used to purchase textbooks and to fund teacher training and workshops. All cheques can be made payable to FACE, 972 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10075.

By  Fabrice Jaumont

updated February 2013

Photo Credit: Jonas Cuenin

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